Seven young birders and parents joined us at Ada Hayden Heritage Park in central Iowa for a pleasant fall morning searching for sparrows and other fall migrants. Ada Hayden Heritage Park has a diversity of habitats and we were anxious to see what we could find on our walk!
Starting off on the paved trail around the north lake, we were quickly greeted by a large flock of Cedar Waxwings with a couple Eastern Bluebirds mixed in. It’s always enjoyable to see these two species (even though the Cedar Waxwings were looking a bit drab) and we took the opportunity to carefully study them at close range. We continued our walk along the paved trail, observing Red-winged Blackbirds overhead and a small group of American Coots on the main lake.
We next ventured onto the upland trail for hopes of spotting some fall sparrows. As if on cue, a Ring-necked Pheasant flushed started on the upland trail, one of several we would see on the trip. Then, one of the young birders spotted an Eastern Phoebe perched on a prairie plant in the distance, a bird that will not likely be sticking around Iowa for much longer. We continued along the upland trail, flushing a few unidentified sparrows before finally getting close looks at a cooperative Song Sparrow. We also learned the call note of the White-throated Sparrow, hearing several as we continued our venture. We arrived at Jensen Pond along the trail, where we quietly observed a group of Canada Geese and tried hard to get looks at a chattering Belted Kingfisher.
As we returned to the parking lot, the birding slowed a bit and we had a great time studying various caterpillars found by the young birders along the upland trail. While doing so, we heard more White-throated Sparrows and observed both a Red-tailed and Broad-winged Hawk soar overhead.
You can view photos of our adventure here and a full list of species observed here. Many thanks to the parents and young birders for joining us on this fine fall morning!